Friday, December 13, 2019

California’s new employment law has boomeranged and is starting to crush freelancers – CNBC

Illinois is among the states considering something similar.

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Evanston Crowd Celebrates ‘Bold’ Reparations Plan – WBEZ

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Illinois 2020 Legislative Session Preview – JD Supra

A nice summary of major items the General Assembly will address in the new session starting next month.

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Failing US Pension System May Need Govt Bailout to Survive – NewsMax

The bottom three (Illinois, Kentucky, and New Jersey) are even more underfunded, dropping from ~50% funding in 2013 down to only ~38% in 2017. A disturbing fact about the three worst funded state pensions is that they have been receiving more money, yet are more underfunded. According to the report, these states "had an average employer contribution rate of more than 31 percent of payroll in 2017—a 22 percentage point increase since 2007."

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Illinois Congressmen say surveillance court process needs reform – Center Square

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Illinois Teachers doles out $665 million to 5 alts managers – Pensions & Investments

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After big first-year wins, Pritzker looks to health care, Chicago casino — and dumping Trump – Chicago Sun-Times

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College admissions scandal hit Illinois ten years ago – IL Review

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University of Chicago Forum: How should we tackle the U.S. pension crisis? – Video

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker gives $5 million to committee backing his graduated income tax plan – Chicago Tribune

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has given $5 million to a ballot initiative committee backing a graduated rate income tax, the cornerstone of his agenda, as both sides of the issue gear up for an expensive and contentious battle in 2020.

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Report suggests statewide bag, bottle, stormwater fees to boost Illinois EPA funding – Center Square

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The elf on the shelf – Eric Allie Cartoon

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Illinois lawmakers divert millions meant to facilitate FOID cards – Center Square

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Corruption probe roils Illinois political machine – The Hill

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Keeping watch is a tall task – News-Gazette

Adam Andrzejewski just turned 50, but he insists that, although he’s getting older, he’s also getting better. The goal of Andrzejewski’s organization is to track the money spent by all 50 states and the federal government — “Every dime, On line, In real time” is the organization’s slogan.

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Illinois Farm Bureau: Trade Deal Will Help After ‘Tough’ 2019 – NPR IL

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The other financial storm threatening to capsize Illinois’ economy – property taxes – Crain’s

Illinois needs deep, structural changes to significantly reduce property taxes that are choking off growth in key sectors of the state’s economy. Residential and commercial real estate markets are sinking, and high property taxes bear much of the blame

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Reform needed to rebuild Illinois manufacturing community – Steve Rauschenberger – Daily Herald

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Pritzker Signs Law to Bolster Public-Works Apprenticeships – A.P.

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After big first-year wins, Pritzker looks to health care, Chicago casino — and dumping Trump – Chicago Sun-Times

Pritzker has been a consistent critic of President Donald Trump, having called on the president to be impeached two years ago. The governor said he’s been keeping track of the impeachment hearings and believes Trump has committed “misdeeds.”

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Pritzker signs bill promoting diverse workforce on capital projects – Capitol IL News

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Progressive income tax study guide – IL Policy

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Cook County, with Madison, St. Clair, land at No. 7 on list of America’s worst ‘Judicial Hellholes’ – Cook County Record

In the Chicago metropolitan area alone, the report indicated those costs hit $3.8 billion and 68,000 jobs annually, translating to a “tort tax” of $811 per person

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Sheila Weinberg Op-Ed: State governments receive financial excellence certificates despite late reporting – Center Square

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Taxpayers and Public Workers Face a “Brutal Awakening” on Pension Debt – Reason Foundation

The American public-sector pension deficit is likely closer to the $4.4 trillion estimate.

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Illinois PACE efforts gain traction as first deal closes – The Bond Buyer

The state’s goal of offering commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy program financing as an affordable alternative for energy efficiency, renewable energy, water conservation, resiliency improvements and other green projects initially fell short, spurring additional legislative changes. The bonds are repaid with local real estate taxes and assessment payments agreed to the property owner and amortized over the useful life of the project that ranges from five to 30 years.

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Another whack at the property tax problem – Editorial – News-Gazette

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Illinois’ sports betting not expected until after Super Bowl – Capitol Fax

As part of the state’s $45 billion of capital spending for projects around Illinois, lawmakers approved sports betting. That money will go toward vertical construction projects such as schools. Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the legislation in late June alongside other measures including doubling the state’s gas tax from 19 cents a gallon to 38 cents a gallon. State Rep. Michael Zalewski, D-Riverside, said Monday that he had hoped to roll out sports betting before the Super Bowl. “I’m starting to get a little more cautious in saying that if we could have someone placing a bet on March Madness, that would be great,” Zalewski said.

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Sexual harassment case against Madigan campaign ends with $275K settlement – IL Policy

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Pritzker Pelaton Christmas – Eric Allie Cartoon

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Just under half of Illinois lawmakers unopposed in 2020 – Center Square

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Tollway boss brings in five former colleagues, at $893,000 a year – Daily Herald

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Illinois, the King of Food Stamp Waiver Abuse – MishTalk

Lots of reasons to leave Illinois, but food stamps isn't one of them.

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Illinois 4-year university tuitions jumped 61% over 15 years – Center Square

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More than 250 new laws take effect in Illinois New Year’s Day – Center Square

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After years of population decline, Decatur is annexing hundreds of properties. Here’s why. – Herald Review

City leaders are looking to stem a possible population loss in the upcoming U.S. Census by bringing more properties into Decatur limits through annexation.

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Trump’s New Food-Stamp Rules In Illinois: If Not Now, When? – ZeroHedge

A republication of our Wirepoints article.

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Mike Madigan’s ComEd windfall – Crain’s

The company at the center of an expanding federal probe into Springfield lobbying went to unusual lengths to financially ingratiate itself with a key Springfield player, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan.

Political insiders and official state disclosure records indicate that Exelon Corp. and its Commonwealth Edison subsidiary for at least the last five years hosted a major autumn Chicago fund-raiser for the speaker, who doubles as chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party. The events were a “command performance” for ComEd lobbyists, executives, suppliers and others, as one participant put it.

The take: $100,000 or more annually—enough to, say, flood two or three House districts with mailers in the last month of an election campaign, and certainly a nice financial base to build upon.

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New Illinois Harassment Training Law Set to Take Effect January 1 – Daily Herald

Signed on August 9 by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, SB75 will impose significant responsibilities on all Illinois businesses when it becomes law on January 1. A leading Human Resources consultant and training leader says now is the time for companies to begin planning to comply with the law.

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Replay of anti-gerrymandering court win in N.C. not necessarily best option for IL reforms, policy advocate says – Cook County Record

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4 IL GOP Lawmakers Call For Madigan’s Resignation – WLDS

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Illinois Governor Signs Employer-Friendly Amendments to Recreational Marijuana Law – National Law Review

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Illinois spent $8.5 billion to cut its pension debt. It wasn’t enough. – Daily Herald

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Paris police arrest scores amid strike over pension reform – A.P.

The open-ended walkout by the country’s unions represents the biggest challenge to Macron since the yellow vest movement against economic inequality erupted a year ago.

Opponents fear the changes to how and when workers can retire will threaten the hard-fought French way of life. Macron himself remained “calm and determined” to push it through, according to a top presidential official.

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The Man Who Made Illinois Politics Shady – Chicago Magazine

Every time a politician collects three salaries, writes a law benefiting himself, or appoints a friend to a government job, we should remember Stephen A. Douglas.

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Progressive aldermen guard their privilege – Crain’s

City Council progressive crusaders, like the Machine counterparts who came before them, are finding the old-school tactic handy as they advance their own political agendas.

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Northwest Indiana ranks 7th nationally in house price appreciation – NWI Times

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As cannabis legalization becomes reality, public housing tenants must follow a different set of rules – JournalStar

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Illinois muni bond banker accepts award at The Bond Buyer’s annual gala – Video

Comment: A description of the muni bond industry that we find (um, how can we say this politely?) novel: “The opportunity to work in this industry with all of you has been extraordinary. The values, the vision of the people in public finance, my colleagues, my clients and, yes even my competitors -- we all shared a journey because we want to leave this world a little better than it was…. We are unique as a financials services sector because we actually care about people.”      

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Investigators ask about Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, report says – Associated Press

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Pritzker backs former Senate Republican leader for ethics commission after mistakenly appointing recent lobbyist – Chicago Sun-Times

Pritzker on Thursday appointed former Illinois Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno to a newly formed ethics commission.

The governor on Wednesday named his four appointees to the commission, including former state Rep. Steven Andersson. Andersson was one of a dozen Republicans who joined Democrats to vote for a budget and income tax hike in July 2017 over the objections of former Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Andersson, however, was a lobbyist until June 28. The resolution bars anyone who registered or worked as a lobbyist in the previous five years.

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A decade after recession, Illinois’ construction industry is ice cold – IL Policy

In 2018, Illinois saw 10,000 permits issued for new single-family homes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The state averaged around 40,000 permits a year prior to the Great Recession. That 75% plunge is the worst decline of any state in the nation. Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Missouri have all seen more single-family home construction than Illinois for three years running.

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Dismal 2019 Numbers Show Why Illinois Pensions Will Continue To Fail – ZeroHedge

A republication of our Wirepoints article.

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Get Your Priorities In Order, Illinois – Forbes

Which matters more:

Providing the necessary funding for the intellectually disabled to be able to access group homes and day programs after they age out of the public school system? Or preserving, in the state pension plans, the 3% fixed annual cost-of-living increases, and unreduced retirement as early as age 55*?

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New Report ranks Illinois third in the nation for industry regulations – Center Square

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Plummer to Brady: Let’s get ethical – WCIA

Senate Republicans are closely monitoring and mulling over Minority Leader Bill Brady’s reaction to a recent rift that opened up between him and state Senator Jason Plummer over ethics and how forcefully or strategically to confront corruption.

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Pritzker defends social equity measures in recreational pot bill, tamps down expectations for Jan. 1 launch – Chicago Tribune

“Our goal is not to immediately deliver as much access to recreational cannabis as possible as quickly as possible,” Pritzker said while signing a measure that tweaks the landmark legalization bill he signed in June.
Rather, Pritzker said, the overarching aim of the legalization law is “to address the inequities that have wreaked havoc on many of our communities.”

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How A Madigan Operative Padded His Pension – With ComEd Work – WBEZ

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State Pension Contributions Grab a Large Share of Illinois’ Budget—But Just How Large? – Civic Federation

"By any measure, Illinois pays a huge amount to meets its statutory pension funding requirements. The debate about pension funding can only be improved if commentators use accurate numbers."

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Springfield’s Shortfall Illustrates Broader Pension Problem – NPR IL

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FBI agents asking questions about House Speaker Madigan and his political operation, say four people they’ve interviewed – Chicago Tribune

Federal authorities have asked questions about Democratic Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and his political operation as part of an ongoing investigation, four people who have been interviewed told the Tribune.

The sources, all of whom requested anonymity, said FBI agents and prosecutors asked about connections between Commonwealth Edison lobbyists and Madigan, lobbyists giving contracts to people tied to the speaker, and city, state and suburban government jobs held by his associates.

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More Adventures In Pension Reform: Why Are The French Striking, And Could It Happen Here? – Forbes

"Would the prospect of pension reform in, for example, the State of Illinois, produce a similar strike? Eh, given the many obstacles it faces, in the form of a constitutional amendment, a head-in-the-sand governor, and the like, we’re unlikely to find out."

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Trump food stamps rule could affect up to 140K people in Illinois – ABC Chicago

"President Trump is now resorting to the ugliest possible tactics to distract the American people from his impeachment and gin up support from the far right-denying food to the most vulnerable people in our society," Pritzker said.

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Illinois Republicans call for special December session to address corruption – Center Square

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Illinois’ minimum wage to increase twice next year beginning Jan. 1 – Center Square

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Illinois’ unfunded pension liability rises to $137.3 billion – Reuters

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Illinois lawmakers should hold Pritzker to his ‘fair maps’ promise – IL Policy

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Illinois families sue TikTok, parent company over data practices – The Hill

Two Illinois children and their mothers sued the social media company TikTok and its parent company on Tuesday for allegedly collecting the personal information of minors without parental consent.
TikTok and ByteDance Technology allegedly tracked, collected, and disclosed information to a third party about the children that used the companies’ Musical.ly app, according to a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois.

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Cullerton got back-door loan from clouted bank – Chicago Sun-Times

In an unusual transaction, retiring Illinois Senate President John Cullerton obtained a personal loan from a politically connected Chicago bank by using money from his campaign fund as collateral, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

The deal allowed Cullerton to sidestep campaign finance disclosure requirements that would have been triggered if he had borrowed or withdrawn the money directly from his campaign fund.

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Do governments ever go out of business? How about Illinois governments? – Truth in Accounting

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Illinois taxpayers fund CapitolFax with nearly $100K – IL Review

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‘Geez, Bill:’ Plummer says Brady offered him ethics post if he’d agree to back off ethics reform – WCIA

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“Inherently Unstable” US Pension System Will Require Federal Bailout, Former Illinois Pension Chief Says – ZeroHedge

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COGFA Special Pension Briefing

Comment: Nothing material that we haven't reported before, but lots of charts and tables with all the current details.

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Data visualization of why Illinois is the worst state for taxes in America

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Amazon plans renewable energy project for Lee County – WIFR

A CNBC story is also linked here.

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30 Illinois medical marijuana dispensaries issued ‘same-site’ licenses to sell weed, including 7 in Chicago – Chicago Sun-Times

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After committing in April, Gov. J.B. Pritzker holds up planning on project to stop Asian carp – Center Square

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Power in payments: Illinois can help unbanked residents, save money by adopting best practices in payment methods – IL Policy

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Diversity at stake in competitive Illinois Supreme Court race – Injustic Watch

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Illinois makes adults with developmental disabilities wait 7 years, or longer, for services they need to live on their own – Chicago Tribune

Nearly 20,000 disabled adults in Illinois are on a waiting list to get into adult programs. Many of them come from families who don’t have a way to pay for home care, job coaches or other services

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‘Geez, Bill:’ Plummer says Brady offered him ethics post if he’d agree to back off ethics reform – WCIA

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Moody’s: Many states in good shape to weather a recession (but not Illinois) – Associated Press

The good news in the report from Moody’s Analytics is tempered by the reality that one-fifth of all states still have nowhere near enough money set aside to survive a recession without resorting to spending cuts or tax hikes. Illinois ranked second to last.

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Illinois offering affordable solar installation for low-income housing – CIProud

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Common Core: Higher Expectations, Flat Results – WBEZ

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State lawmakers pressure House Speaker Michael Madigan to answer questions about secret payments to aide fired after sexual harassment claims – Center Square

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Final pieces coming together for rollout of Illinois’ adult-use cannabis law – Center Square

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Parking tax would support building, hit private land – A.P.

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Look past the faces of Illinois corruption to see the larger problem – IL Policy

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State panel faces Dec. 31 deadline for property tax relief recommendations – Chicago Tribune

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Illinois among least financially-transparent states in U.S., report finds – Center Square

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Pritzker Campaign Seeks Sanctions Against Plaintiffs In Racial Discrimination Lawsuit – NPR IL

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Straighten up and fly right – Editorial – News-Gazette

Gov. J.B. Pritzker vetoed legislation that would have canceled an estimated $50 million in sales taxes owed by 14 luxury private jet companies doing business in Illinois. That group includes Flightstar in Savoy.
There are several questions surrounding this complicated situation, the biggest being just who’s responsible for what appears to be a costly oversight.

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Jim Dey – Potential Cullerton successor no stranger to claims of misconduct – News-Gazette

Dey col Lightford  

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A drop in people, a $1 billion rise in property taxes – Daily Herald

Property tax collections by local governments in Illinois increased nearly $1 billion between 2017 and 2018 even as the state lost thousands of residents over that year.

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Financial Disclosure A Target Of Illinois General Assembly’s Ethics Quest – A.P.

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Jim Dey: Confidential emails speak volumes about politics in Illinois – News Gazette

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Democratic leaders defied House Speaker Michael Madigan to appoint a replacement for Rep. Luis Arroyo. Here’s what could happen next. – Chicago Tribune

In a rare defiance of powerful Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, a group of Democratic Party leaders on the Northwest Side this month used the votes of former state Rep. Luis Arroyo to choose his replacement, setting up a potential battle the General Assembly hasn’t seen in decades.

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In New York state corruption cases, a preview of coming attractions for Illinois – Chicago Sun-Times

The New York experience reminds me corruption-busting can be a long process demanding patience, even after charges are brought.

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Illinois Democratic Senator Sandoval resigns amid federal corruption, bribery probe – Fox News

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New Illinois Parking Tax To Begin Jan. 1 – Journal-Register

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IL Secretary of State Made Over $40 Million On Selling Driver’s License Data – WLDS

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Illinois biometrics lawsuit takes aim at Amazon Web Services – Center Square

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Rich Miller: Madigan’s most trusted adviser lied. Who knows what else he did? – Crain’s

Comment: It looks like even Rich Miller is heading to the lifeboats on the S.S. Madigan-Cullerton. He says, "I've always told people I know that if you mess up, I cannot and will not help you." Translation: I know what you do, but if you get caught...."

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Rich Miller: Does the Democratic Party of Illinois really have a “magic Excel sheet” to track contributions?

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State lobbyist makes millions running video gambling company from Chicago movie studio – Chicago Sun-Times

Frank Cortese is a lobbyist who helped secure state grants for Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, where he now runs a gaming company that’s taken in more than $12 million over the last three years.

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Measure on governor’s desk clarifies online sellers, not shoppers, must remit sales tax to Illinois, local governments – Center Square

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Editorial: Illinois’ corruption eruption: Giving thanks for FBI agents and federal prosecutors – Chicago Tribune

Federal law enforcers have been as busy as most members of the Illinois political class have been unnerved. The extent of the investigations remains unknown. Sweeps and subpoenas don’t automatically translate into indictments or convictions. But the U.S. attorney’s office is charging forward aggressively. For people cheated out of honest chances at jobs and contracts. For taxpayers. For citizens fed up with the stench of greed and corruption that rots a basic trust in government.
For that law enforcement effort we say, thank you.

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NJ To Become Wasteland: 44% Of Residents Plan To Flee State – ZeroHedge

Comment: A reminder that NJ is right up there with IL. CT, CA, KY and maybe MA aren't far behind.

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Senate President John Cullerton set to collect $2M pension – IL Policy

The departure of Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, highlights one example of how pension sweeteners Illinois lawmakers passed decades ago are putting taxpayers on the hook for extravagant benefits today. Cullerton is set to receive more than $2 million in state pension payments over the course of his retirement, should he live to age 85. He will take home nearly $4.2 million if he lives to age 95, which is $1.3 million more than he would have received without the special sweetener.

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker says commission should consider lobbying prohibition for lawmakers – Center Square

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John Kass: Illinois Speaker Michael Madigan and Caesar know the political truth: Only the most trusted can betray you. – Chicago Tribune

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As nation celebrates small businesses, Illinois considers taxing them more – Il Policy

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As nation celebrates small businesses, Illinois considers taxing them more – IL Policy

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Sen. Martin Sandoval Resigns Months After Feds Raid Office – NBC Chicago

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Poll finds Illinois voters aren’t optimistic about businesses growth under progressive income tax – Center Square

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New Illinois pot law says users must be impaired before employers can punish – The Telegraph

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Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes on Pension Consolidation, Ongoing Funding Woes – WTTW

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Chicago’s 2020 budget proposal was never truly balanced – IL Policy

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Why Should You Care About The Illinois/New Jersey/Connecticut Pension Crisis? A Thanksgiving Dinner Discussion-Starter – Forbes

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Eight days after request, Lincoln Museum shipped Gettysburg Address to Texas – Capitol News IL

Cavalier lending of priceless artifact led to former director’s ouster.

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Cashing In On Cannabis: Companies, Individuals Look to Make Big Bucks With Legalized Marijuana – NBC Chicago

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JIm Dey | Details, schmetails — just pass the pension legislation – News-Gazette

There was much celebration in Springfield two weeks ago after legislators passed a pension consolidation bill that its backers say will help put downstate fire and police municipal pensions on a firmer financial footing. Gov. J.B. Pritzker called the legislation a “huge bipartisan step” toward “alleviating the enormous property tax burden in downstate and suburban communities.” Pritzker is at least two-thirds right — the vote was bipartisan and it was a step. But huge? The facts don’t support that claim.

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Commentary: Math scares your child’s elementary school teacher — and that should frighten you – Chicago Tribune

What's been overlooked is that teaching deep understanding to elementary students requires that teachers have that understanding themselves. Studies consistently show many don't.
Research also shows that, compared with other college students, future elementary teachers are especially prone to math anxiety — apprehension about doing math that’s so severe it interferes with actually doing it. That anxiety remains once they are in classrooms, and studies show that students learn less math from a math-anxious teacher.

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Illinois School Boards Association Votes Down Resolution Calling To Arm Teachers – Newsweek

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Why are Illinois legislators going to bat for China? – Opinion – JournalStandard

"Consider this: China’s de minimis level is a mere $8. That means any company shipping a product to China valued at more than $8 must pay a duty. But there’s no reciprocity; a Chinese good priced as high as $799 can enter the U.S. duty-free."

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On break, Illinois Congress members sound off on impeachment hearings – Center Square

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Editorial: Illinois lawmakers try to skirt the impact of Janus. Why Gov. Pritzker should say no. – Chicago Tribune

Lawmakers during the fall veto session sent to Gov. J.B. Pritzker legislation that would make it easier for unions to recruit members and harder for employees to know their rights under Janus. Public employers — mostly governments — would be required to provide the names, addresses and contact information of their employees, including personal email addresses and cellphone numbers on file, directly to union bargaining units. If Pritzker signs the bill, he will demonstrate once again who actually runs Illinois state government. It’s not his administration. It’s not the department heads. It’s the public employees unions who represent more than 90% of the state workforce. They already have the power. Governor, why give them more?

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New study: Personal income gains in Illinois lag behind rest of nation – Center Square

A new report released by Pew Charitable Trusts found that the state’s income growth was 49th in the nation over the past decade, at an annualized rate of 1.1 percent. Illinois remained in the bottom ten for the first half of 2019, with a growth rate of 2 percent. The full study by Pew is linked here.

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A political game that voters can’t win – Crain’s

At least 19 representatives of the current 118-member Illinois House were not chosen by voters when they first were seated, according to lawmakers' biographical...

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Looking for solutions to a black exodus in Illinois higher education – Crain’s

Millions of dollars are flowing into campus renovations, financial aid and student programs aimed at attracting, shoring up and retaining black students.

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Senator to Speaker Madigan: Explain payments to accused sexual harasser or resign as Democratic chairman – Chicago Tribune

Democratic Sen. Iris Martinez is calling for House Speaker Michael Madigan to fully explain how friendly lobbyists wound up sending money to an aide he had ousted in a sexual harassment scandal — or step down from his role as chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party.

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Munster, St. John and Whiting join Move to Indiana campaign – NWI Times

Grass is Greener campaign looks to lure Illinois residents to IndianaThe website for the Move to Indiana campaign is linked here.

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Jim Dey | Pritzker’s pension positions prompt predictions of peril – News-Gazette

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Is Kimberly Lightford the next senate president? – WGN

  She wants to take on Springfield’s culture of harassment and intimidation.“ There’s a lot of dictatorship in Springfield and it’s a changing and moving environment,” she said. “The culture is a lot different today than it was as it relates to men and women relationships. It’s time for us to have those uncomfortable conversations around relations.”

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Danville annabis dispensary expected to open by March – Commercial News

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Evidence lacking for Pritzker’s pension buyout claim – BGA

Our own story from last week on this Pritzker's whopper, and its contradition with the state's own bond documents, is linked here.

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker promises to veto any unfair legislative map, but can’t say if he’ll try to change map-making process – Center Square

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Records show City of Berwyn paid State Rep. Durkin’s law firm nearly $200K in fees – West Cook News

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Editorial: Speaker Madigan’s #MeToo messes and the silence of the Dems – Chicago Tribune

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Illinois community college tuitions jumped 55.7% over 15 years – IL Bus. Daily

Comment: Still a bargain at $4,198/year for tuition and fees.

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Why millennials should care about government pensions — even if they don’t have one – MarketWatch

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Illinois is No. 3 for most state regulations, report finds – IL Policy

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Illinois General Assembly Passes Amendments to Recreational Cannabis Law Reducing Some Employer Liabilities – JD Supra

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New Senate president should follow Cullerton’s lead – JournalStar

Presented without comment.

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Gov. Pritzker spending more of his own money on Capitol office – A.P.

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Women flocking to Illinois for abortions, providers work to keep up – WICS

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The Adventure of Illinois’ CAFR – Video – Truth in Accounting

A short video on Illinois' tardiness in releasing its annual Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

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The Christmas Message For Speaker Michael Madigan’s ‘Magic Lobbyist List’ – WBEZ

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Broker warns insulin price cap queued up for Illinois governor could bring unintended consequences – Center Square

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Lauren Underwood’s Illinois District Considers Impeachment – The New Yorker

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Is Kimberly Lightford the next senate president? – WGN

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Lawmakers move to boost online sales tax compliance – Capitol News IL

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Op-Ed: Leaked emails from federal investigation reveal Madigan as ‘Himself’ – Center Square

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Illinois to Take Emergency Action to Halt Isolated Timeouts in Schools – ProPublica

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Martire vs. Proft debate: Should Illinois voters approve a progressive income tax? – Video

Held at the University Club in Chicago on November 21.

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Pension Amendment – Pritzker Skydiving – Eric Allie Cartoon

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker wants to change Illinois’ negative narrative – Center Square

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‘Keep all of this confidential’: How a powerful ComEd lobbyist lined up contracts for a disgraced ex-aide to Speaker Michael Madigan and why federal authorities are interested – Chicago Tribune

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Illinois lawmakers pass pension sweeteners without knowing the cost – IL Policy

Illinois has nation’s worst pension debt. Maybe that’s because state lawmakers take a problem they aren’t sure exists, apply a solution they don’t know will work and never determine the cost.

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Seventh Circuit Declines to Award Damages to Victorious Janus Plaintiff – National Law Review

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Governor Of Illinois, Home Of Nation’s Worst Fiscal Crisis, Slams Door On Pension Reform – ZeroHedge

A republication of our Wirepoints article.

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The Federal Government Collects Data on How Often Schools Seclude Children. The Numbers Don’t Add Up. – ProPublica

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Does Governor Pritzker Truly Want To Solve The Illinois Pension Crisis? – Forbes

Elizabeth Bauer, pension actuary: "Pritzker cannot reasonably pat himself on the back for a buyout and a consolidation of unrelated pensions, while simultaneously shrugging off true pension reform as too hard. Not, that is, unless he just doesn’t care."

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Maywood’s Kimberly Lightford bids to be president of Illinois State Senate – Fox Chicago

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker rules out constitutional change to address Illinois’ $134 billion in unfunded pension liabilities – Center Square

Comment: Pure bunk from Pritzker, for the reasons described herein.

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Thousands moving to Alabama from Illinois every year – AL.Com

Nearly 30,000 people moved to Alabama from Illinois since 2010, reversing the flow of the Great Migration and marking the largest surge from the Rust Belt to the Yellowhammer State in recent years.

Meanwhile, only half as many went the opposite direction.

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John Kass: Former Chicago FBI chief questions whether local prosecutors have ‘the will’ to take on Illinois corruption – Chicago Tribune

Rob Grant, former special agent in charge of the Chicago FBI: “I always wondered why, when I was here, why the attorney general of the state of Illinois and other prosecuting officials never tackled the corruption that was so endemic in this area,” Grant said. “I never got a straight answer,” Grant said. "...But there’s a very low level of desire, it appears to me, in the state of Illinois and in Cook County, to actually take on this particular crime problem in this city and this state and it’s left to the feds to do that job. Part of it is tools, part of it is will and determination. And I have yet to see it, quite frankly in the state of Illinois and in Cook County.”

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50,000 food stamp recipients in Cook County may have to find jobs starting Jan. 1 — or risk losing their benefits – Chicago Tribune

The change is the result of Cook County’s falling unemployment rate. Illinois, like other states, received waivers for the entire state for many years.
Now Cook County’s unemployment rate is also too low to qualify for the waiver. Last month the Illinois Department of Human Services submitted a waiver request for every county in the state except Cook and DuPage

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Amazon Web Services targeted in latest Illinois biometrics class action for storing fingerprint scans uploaded by others – Cook County Record

Comment: The law is a gift that keeps giving to Illinois plaintiffs' lawyers.

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Former Illinois employee seeking refund of forced union dues asks entire appeals court to hear his case – Center Square

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Illinois lawmakers tee up first legislative clash with Gov. J.B. Pritzker over tax exemption on plane maintenance – Center Square

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Report: Illinois doctors prescribe workers hurt on the job more expensive remedies, costs climb higher – Center Square

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Justice Department Announces Strike Force to Combat Crimes in Government Procurement, Grant and Program Funding

Comment: Note the apparently prominent role of the US Attorney for Northern District of Illinois.

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Pritzker rejects tying pension, income-tax amendments together – Crain’s

In an appearance at an Economic Club luncheon, Pritzker said he understands why some factions are pushing a "shared sacrifice" approach in which voters next year would vote on two amendments to the Illinois Constitution, one allowing his so-called "fair tax" and the other revamping a clause which locks in current payments for government workers. But that won't fly, either fiscally or politically, the Democratic governor asserted.

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Illinois pension costs skyrocketed by 500%, crowding out government services – IL Policy

Since fiscal year 2000, after adjusting for inflation, state spending on education has grown by 21%. State spending on everything from child protection, state police, college aid for low-income students and more has fallen by nearly one-third during that time. But state spending on pensions for government workers, meanwhile, grew by a whopping 501% – on top of a 127% increase in spending on health care costs for state workers.

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In ethics reform bill, Steans moves to increase lobbying transparency – Chicago City Wire

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Federal funding for Quad Cities to Chicago Amtrak project gets big extension – WQAD

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How local ‘fake news’ websites spread ‘conservative propaganda’ in the US – The Guardian

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Letter: Another Illinois Exodus story: Death by a thousand cuts – Chicago Tribune

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Post-Janus union legislation heads to Gov. J.B. Pritzker – Center Square

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Record low unemployment continues in Illinois – Center Square

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Mandated sick pay could come for vote when Illinois lawmakers return in January – Center Square

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Bipartisan support for ‘fair maps’ in wake of corruption probes at Illinois statehouse – Center Square

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Post-Janus union legislation heads to Gov. J.B. Pritzker – Center Square

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Column: There’s finally aggressive action against corruption in Illinois — and you can thank President Trump – Chicago Tribune

Democrats were not going to clean up corruption. The Illinois Republican Party was not equipped to do it. Voters definitely were not going to do it.
Drumroll: It is a Trump-Sessions appointee rescuing numb Illinois voters from a government on the take.

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Rep. Chris Miller: Governor’s police and fire pension ‘reform’ not the solution Illinois needs – IL Review

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32,000 Illinoisans save $8.5 million in first year of new program – Capitol News IL

Comment: And Treasurer Frerichs has a press conference to announce what he sees as a great success?

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Rich Miller: Illinois Senate President John Cullerton’s Looming Retirement Creates a Vacuum into Which State Senators are Diving

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Red-light camera companies can hire public officials as sales agents without disclosing it. That’s under federal scrutiny, and critics say the loophole should be closed. – Chicago Tribune

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Cullerton: Is my work done here? – Eric Allie Cartoon

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2 groups push to get more minority business owners involved in Illinois’ recreational marijuana industry – ABC Chicago

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Cullerton’s complicated exit: disgruntled aide muzzled after money went missing – WCIA

WCIA's examination of financial documents, interviews with top lieutenants and staff, and an investigation of his private business dealings reveals that behind the scenes, his caucus was devolving into a tailspin and his campaign operation was already in tatters. Whichever of the 39 other Democratic senators should replace him in January will inherit a thorny tangle of ethical and legal headaches, as at least three sitting members of the caucus are either facing federal indictment, under investigation, or wiring up for the FBI.

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Illinois, Chicago foreclosure rates among highest; Peoria and Rockford worst in nation – Attom Data Solutions

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In East St. Louis, residents fight to bring pre-K to child care deserts – NBC News

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot says she was ‘quite close’ to getting her Springfield wish list, but she’s now batting .000 in the General Assembly – Chicago Tribune

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Foster Parents, ACLU Resist Illinois Medicaid Plan Change – NBC Chicago

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IMEC Launches New Program To Invest In The Future Of Illinois Manufacturers – The Street

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Illinois expands virtual course offerings for middle, high school students – Daily Herald

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A New Model Of Policing In Chicago – WBEZ

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Editorial | Roll of the dice – News-Gazette

Kept in the dark and covered with manure, our mushroom legislators cast important votes without adequate deliberation.

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Deere workers grapple with fallout from Trump’s trade war – Reuters

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Ethics commission bill heads to governor’s desk – Capitol News IL

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Ralph Martire: At last, Illinois finds pension answer beyond cutting benefits – Daily Herald

Comment: Oh, please, Ralph. The pensions covered by the new consolidation law discussed here represent only about 4.5% of our pension problems. The sponsors never offered a shred of analysis proving the claimed savings. Though this consolidation step is sensible in concept, the General Assembly mucked it up with other problems. See our own article on that linked here.

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Where you can and can’t buy recreational marijuana in Illinois – IL Policy

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Seeking a smarter energy plan for Illinois – Opinion – Herald Review

Governor J.B. Pritzker is pushing a plan to make energy production in Illinois 100 percent renewable by 2050. Currently about 6 percent of the state’s electric production comes from renewables. The idea that we can completely replace coal and natural gas by 2050 is a fantasy.

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Trump Rolls Back EPA Oversight in Midwest, Favoring Polluters – BGA

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Retailers could face Black Friday staffing challenges amid record-low unemployment – Center Square

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Editorial: Illinois’ corruption scandals complicate the Democrats’ tax push – Chicago Tribune

Against this sorry backdrop — the certainty of ever more tax gouges, the worsening corruption eruption — Gov. J.B. Pritzker and his fellow Democrats want voters to approve their open-ended amendment to enable graduated income taxes. Higher tax rates would hit big earners first. What lawmakers refuse to admit publicly — just try asking them — is that they’ll next raise rates on middle-class taxpayers, too. That’s where the real money is.

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Successor to former state Rep. Luis Arroyo chosen, but one Cook County Democrat says ‘the fix is in’ – Chicago Sun-Times

Setting the stage for a potential battle with one of the state’s most powerful Democrats, a Northwest Side alderman and three other Democratic committeemen on Friday picked a successor for former state Rep. Luis Arroyo.

They did so with the use of Arroyo’s proxy votes — though he faces federal bribery charges, Arroyo remains the 36th Ward committeeman. That led another Democratic committeeman to leave the meeting, declaring “the fix is in.”

Arroyo didn’t attend, but 30th Ward Ald. Ariel Reboyras cast his own weighted vote and Arroyo’s proxy. In the end, Eva-Dina Delgado, an assistant to the president of Peoples Gas, was ultimately selected to finish Arroyo’s term.

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Sen. Dick Durbin pushing for more funding on scientific research – Fox IL

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Income tax hike dropped Illinois’ economic freedom rank, ‘fair tax’ would drop it more – IL Policy

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Illinois declares emergency over propane shortage – WIFR

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Illinois towns will be able to tax cannabis sales earlier than before under bill headed to governor’s desk – Center Square

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Senate President John Cullerton announces retirement amid sweeping Illinois corruption probe – IL Policy

Comment: Read his letter included in this article. Among the accomplishments he claims are pension reform (there was none), the school funding bill (which will never come remotely close to being funded) and two capital bills (one of which is the preposterously oversized new one for $40 billion, funded by taxes on the working class)!

John Kass: Michael Madigan, federal wiretaps and that big federal bus – Chicago Tribune

Kass: "I figure that eventually, I’ll be spending time under those harsh fluorescent lights in the federal courthouse in Chicago, learning all about Madigan Electric lobbyists close to Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan."

Illinois Senate passes public safety pension consolidation plan, giving Gov. J.B. Pritzker a big fall session win – Chicago Tribune

Comment: What's "big" about it? The pensions covered represent just 4.5% of our pension unfunded liabilities. Actual savings are speculative, but in any event will barely move the needle. And there's this astonishing comment from a lawmaker: “We’re finally doing what Illinois is supposed to do, which is get ahead of these issues before it becomes a crisis," said Sen. Linda Holmes, an Aurora Democrat.

Illinois lawmakers approve Pritzker’s pension fund asset merger – The Bond Buyer

Pritzker: “In passing this bipartisan legislation, the General Assembly has demonstrated a historic commitment to responsible and sustainable fiscal management.” The Bond Buyer: "The state has not produced any actuarial review to support [the savings it claims]."